The following are a number of suggestions I have to fix the scheduling of cricket in Australia:
– Play the Sheffield Shield over 10 weekends (rounds) between September and early December.
– Play the first 5 rounds of the Sheffield Shield at country locations where there will be better crowds than the capital cities. Play the second 5 rounds in the capital cities.
– Play the Shield final on the 2nd weekend of December (Thursday to Monday) and ensure no Test or International matches are scheduled for that weekend. The Shield final could be really developed as a marquee event if all Australian test players are available with it played on a weekend free of any tests in December.
– Start the Big Bash on the Wednesday straight after the Shield Final. The domestic level of cricket will have a week to be in the spotlight with the Shield Final and then a double header (East Coast then West Coast game) to start off the Big Bash on a high. Then on the Friday of that same week will be the start of the next test (The 1st Test of the second Test series of the summer if there are two 3 Test series that summer).
– Play the domestic one day competition after the completion of the Big Bash.
– Expand the Big Bash to include 12 teams. Work with the NZ cricket board to bring in 3 New Zealand teams (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) and also bring in one more Australian team (Canberra). A 12 team Big Bash competition where each team plays every team only once will allow for a reduction of Big Bash games to an ideal number in between the current (too many) and previous (not quite enough) number of games.
– Half of the teams in a 12 team Big Bash will have 6 home games (Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Christchurch) and half will have 5 home games (Sydney Thunder, Sydney Sixers, Melbourne Stars, Melbourne Renegades, Canberra) with the game between Auckland and Wellington rotated each season between them.
– Works towards creating an international free window for the Big Bash after the Sydney test to the end of the Big Bash. Ideally a touring team should play Tests only OR short format games (T20/ODI’s) only.
– Ensure that no home Tests are played after the Sydney test in January.
– Aim to play all ODI’s and T20 international games after the completion of the Big Bash or before the Test series (but not on the Shield Final weekend). If that can’t be done play ODI’s or T20 Internationals on days that are free from Big Bash games even if that means pushing the final a little further back to make it happen and allow selected players play Big Bash games the night before a T20 International.
– What I have proposed above helps line up the time each format is played at the domestic level with the international level – Shield followed by Tests, Big Bash followed by T20 Internationals, Domestic One Day followed by ODI’s.
– Ensure no team heads off for an international tour until all home internationals of ALL formats are completed.
– To offset the proposed early completion of the Sheffield Shield play Australia A and Prime Minister’s XI games between end of the Big Bash and before an overseas test series that follows the international home summer to help give match practice and act as selection trials.